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GolfWRX Morning 9: What the 2019 Rules update got wrong | The joy of December golf

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

December 24, 2018

Good Monday morning, golf fans. A Merry Christmas Eve to you all!
1. On December golf
The immortal John Updike with an equally immortal 1989 piece for Golf Digest.
“An hour north of Boston, the golf shops hold their end-of-season sales in early October, and by the end of the month, the club pros have flown south to Florida, to begin all over again. The courses remain open, however, for a month or so-at first, with flags in fresh-cut cups, and then without flags but with unlined holes cut in the middle of the green, and finally with no holes in the green but perhaps temporary greens set up some yards in front, on patches of fairway where putting is as chancy as bowling across cobblestones. Nevertheless, a devoted few play on, through Indian summer and Thanksgiving, into December, until the first snowfall puts a decisive end to the golfing year.”
  • “Just as a day may come at sunset into its most glorious hour, or a life toward the gray-bearded end enter a halcyon happiness, December golf, as long as it lasts, can seem the sweetest golf of the year. The unkind winds and muddy plugged lies of April and May, the deepening rough of June, the hot, eager crowds of July and August, the obfuscating goose feathers and fallen leaves of the autumn are all gone, gone, and golf feels, on the frost-stiffened fairways, reduced to its austere and innocent essence.”
  • “December always holds some mild-enough days. Sunshine glints like a thin shell of ice on the upper sides of the bare, gray twigs, the sky is striped like blue bacon, a tardy line of Canada geese wobbles its way south, and the air is delighted to be providing oxygen to some plucky sportsmen. The foursome, thinned perhaps to a mere threesome or twosome, meets by the boarded-up clubhouse exhilarated to have an entire golf course to itself-fairway upon fairway visible through the naked trees, zigzagging back and forth in the view from the first tee. There are no tee markers, no starting times, no scorecards, no gasoline carts-just golf-mad men and women, wearing wool hats and two sweaters each, moving on their feet…

Full piece. 

2. Whiff!
Geoff Shackelford took issue with an element of the 2019 updates to the Rules of Golf…more specifically, the failure to make an update to an irksome issue.
  • …”the governing bodies did not budge on one of the most requested rule changes: relief from divots.”
  • “Chalk this up to a win for the all-important “play it as it lies” principle, the most vital tenet of golf’s rules. But do not expect this to be the last time divot-relief is scrutinized. There is good reason to believe the adoption of several changes will force the U.S. Golf Association and R&A to cave on the divot matter.”
  • “More than any other annoyance in the sport, seeing a ball finish in divots of differing recovery stages can be an aggravating though generally rare occurrence given the number of shots struck.”
  • “At courses with big maintenance budgets and carts armed with sand bottles, the issue gets trickier when an old divot blatantly becomes ground under repair, particularly when players can spot seeds in the mix. The divot issue is generally more acute for American golfers who play an aerial game, making the recovery shot more painful than on a links, where fewer forced carries mean golfers more easily can advance the ball to the hole via the ground.”
  • “According to the rules experts who put an incredible amount of time into this simplification effort and who deserve our gratitude for listening as never before, the divot issue was cited heavily during the feedback period. Even as the golfing public successfully lobbied for a monumental change in the stroke and distance rules, the rules experts – gulp – dug deep when it came to considering divots as ground under repair.”
3. Another opinion?
Martin Kaufmann writes…
“…in their sweeping overhaul of the Rules of Golf, the game’s governing bodies showed themselves to be open, transparent and flexible, and also attuned and sympathetic to the plight of mid-and high-handicappers.”
  • “That was reflected in numerous rules changes, including: a local rule dealing with balls that are lost or OB; establishing the ability to set a “maximum score”; sanctioning the use of distance-measuring devices; reducing or eliminating some penalties; encouraging “ready golf”; providing a means for poor players to extricate themselves from bunkers; and allowing players to move loose impediments in bunkers. It’s also reflected in a condensed rule book – 24 rules, down from 34 – that contains less-tortured language, and also supporting videos and other materials that are easily consumed.”
  • “Without blowing up the rules, they’ve done a wonderful job of maintaining the integrity of golf and yet made things more consistent throughout the course and reduced penalties that frankly seem a little unfair in many people’s eyes,” said Bill Linneman, director of rules and competitions for the Wisconsin Golf Association.”
  • “The USGA and R&A didn’t just meet everyday golfers halfway; they embraced them in a big bear hug. The result, said Ryan Farb, the Northern California Golf Association’s director of rules and competitions, is “The everyday player is going to end up playing by the rules by default a lot more than they used to.”
4. Foster axed
Andy Johnson at the Fried Egg…
  • “Congressional Country Club has decided to cut ties with golf course architect Keith Foster. The club’s Board of Governors came to the decision this morning and will begin the process of finding a new architect. The move came following Wednesday’s news that Foster had plead guilty to illegally transporting between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of items made from endangered species, migratory birds and other wildlife. Foster potentially faces up to five years in prison. In an email to the membership, Club President Bev Lane remarked, “The permitting phase of the Blue Course restoration project will continue as planned. A list of golf course architects has been developed and initial discussions with them have already begun.”
  • “Keith Foster has also been let go at Olympia Fields Country Club following the news of his guilty plea. The club and Foster were in the early stages of masterplanning at the historic club. Olympia Fields released a statement to their membership “we have done our best to mitigate the Club’s damages resulting from his admitted offenses and are proceeding to formulate a plan to move forward with another architect.” Before selecting Foster, Olympia Fields was considering Andy Staples, Tom Doak and Jim Urbina.”
5. Speaking of Olympia Fields…
Dan Kilbridge at Golfweek…
  • “Olympia Fields Country Club will host a FedEx Cup Playoff event in 2020, according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.
  • Sources tell the Tribune that the event now called the BMW Championship will take place at the site of the 2003 U.S. Open in Olympia Fields, Ill., where Jim Furyk won with a then record-low 272 total.”
  • “The BMW has traditionally been held in the Chicago area every other year, but this means back-to-back years with the 2019 event set for Medinah Country Club”
6. Talking to the author “The Evolution of Golf Course Design”
“Our Peter Schmitt conducted an interview with Keith Cutten, author of “The Evolution of Golf Course Design,” which is a new book he is releasing to the public. This is an unbelievably well-researched and all-encompassing look at golf course architecture, how it has changed throughout history, and all of the variables in play that have shaped it over the course of time.”
Q: “Let’s start with the easy stuff. What’s your personal background? How did you get into all of this?”
A: “Well, my passion for golf architecture started back in high school. I took a drafting and design curriculum all through high school, which was hugely beneficial. I was getting into golf around 15-16 years old and I lost my grandfather, who was the primary golf influence in my life. When he died, he left me his golf clubs, and I missed him so much I just dove completely head first into golf.”
  • “When I finished high school, I sat down with my dad to try to hash out a game plan to get into the golf industry. My dad was an environmental scientist for 40 years with the Ministry of Environment in Ontario, so he helped me a great deal in understanding the policy system here in Canada. I started by getting my bachelor’s degree from the University of Waterloo in Planning and Environmental Design. In my last coop term, I went for broke and I reached out to Rod Whitman in Canada, who invited me to do a 5-month coop with him during the construction of Sagebrush Golf & Sporting Club in British Columbia. The pay was paltry and I ran a shovel and a rake for most of the summer, but I fell in love with it instantly.”
  • “I later went back for my master’s in Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph, which I finished in 2016. The culmination of that was my thesis, which has now become this book. Nowadays, I have my own company, Cutten Golf, Inc., which allows me to partner with people like Rod and Dave Axland, who has been Coore and Crenshaw’s chief project manager for 30 years. I couldn’t have walked into a better situation as a young, aspiring architect. To have the opportunity to work with these guys is incredible.”
  • “Having had the opportunity to peek at an advanced copy, I can say the book is completely fascinating. Talk a little bit about what compelled you to devote so much of yourself to this pursuit in the first place.”
  • “I’m the type of person that needs to answer my own questions to be satisfied. I’m not comfortable with just accepting things as fact without knowing the story behind them. I was sitting in one of my first master’s classes, which was basically a history of the landscape architecture profession. I’m learning how everything is influenced by society and wars and economy and I thought, “This has to be true for golf, but no one’s ever talked about it.”
  • “At the time, I was also batting around ideas for my thesis. I was thinking a lot about the renovations that had recently been done to Pinehurst No. 2 and I was particularly curious about how Donald Ross’s original design was so much more environmentally sound than what it had been allowed to become over the course of time.”
  • “One of the key quotes that I got from Bill [Coore] about that project was that they were not trying to be “environmental crusaders” so much as they were just trying to put the course back to the way Donald Ross had originally intended it. So the question I kept asking in my head was, “How did this happen?” I sort of went on a fact finding mission to uncover how golf course architecture changed and it kept snowballing. I just kept following leads in different directions that began to connect all the dots for me. I went a little deeper down the rabbit hole every day, and ended up with a 600+ page thesis to turn in.”
7. Jon Rahm-Seve Ballesteros
How about this for a “grow the game” initiative?
  • Brian Keogh of Irish Golf Desk writes, “Combining the eternal appeal of Seve Ballesteros with the star power of Ryder Cup hero Jon Rahm has drawn more than 600 children to participate in the ‘Seve & Jon Golf for Kids’ programme in Spain.”
  • “While the youngsters know all about Seve through watching his videos and hearing the stories of his feats, they were keen to get to know Rahm and played golf with their hero at Meaztegi Golf, a Seve-designed public golf course in Ortuella, a mining town near Bilbao.”
  • “After competing in five qualifiers during the summer, 80 boys and girls under 16 made it to the final event of the ‘Seve & Jon Golf for Kids’ series, which is a joint initiative by Jon Rahm and the Seve Ballesteros Foundation aimed at introducing younger generations to the game of golf and its values.”
8. Economic impact of The Open
Jim Miller at the Courier…”A record 172,000 fans flocked to the coastal Angus town for the prestigious golf tournament in July and delivered an economic impact of £69 million, according to the study by Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Centre.”
  • “Tiger Woods on 18th green, reacting after missing a birdie putt. Friday, 20th July, 2018. Scotland also benefited from £51 million in destination marketing activity thanks to The Open being broadcast on television to more than 600 million households in 193 countries worldwide.”
  • “The study – which was commissioned by golf’s governing body The R&A, VisitScotland and Angus Council – also concluded that the Angus area alone received a £21 million injection of new money from The Open.”
  • “Almost half of the spectators who attended The Open (49.8%) travelled from outwith Scotland, while the overwhelming majority of Scottish fans (84.8%) came from outside Angus. The research found 62% of non-Angus residents indicated they would return to the region for a break within 12 months.”
9. For your listening pleasure
In this episode of The Gear Dive, Host Johnny Wunder chats with fellow Seattle native Jay Turner on growing up with Freddy Couples, the things the big companies aren’t paying attention to, Johnny Wunder’s first set of clubs, creating a fitting system that is hard to argue with and sticking to his guns for over 30 years.

Listen here.

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The DailyWRX: What’s buzzing on social media (5/25/2020)

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Gotta say, The Match: Champions for Charity, was a fun escape from reality and further fueled the “we need golf back” fire. I dedicate this DailyWRX to The Match, thanks for thrills boys.

No matter how hard you try to make this a meme…

It’s Tom Brady. He wins….always, no matter what. He’s a Mount Rushmore guy.

This gave me goosebumps…

Its an exhibition match for charity, and I’m over here jacked up like its Balboa vs. Drago. SMH. I love TW.

View this post on Instagram

Sunday red is back. ????

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Yes…

To all of it.

Phil…

Please just run for President and get it over with, you got my vote…..in perpetuity. I mean hellacious seeds? Yes I want hellacious seeds. Please.

DM @johnny_wunder

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Justin Rose, Honma officially part ways

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Justin Rose and Honma Golf have officially severed ties, per a joint statement released Friday evening.

Former World No. 1 and current World No. 14, Rose (previously a TaylorMade staffer) made waves in the equipment industry when he signed on as a full-bag Honma staffer at the beginning of 2019. He made waves again in late February when he arrived at PGA National with a TaylorMade SIM driver in his bag.

The next week, at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rose swapped out his remaining Honma wares for a TaylorMade SIM Max fairway wood, a Cobra Speedzone Pro 5-wood, TaylorMade P730 irons, and TaylorMade and Titleist wedges.

Full text of the statement from Honma/Rose below

“Honma Golf Limited (“Honma”) announces that, following a successful partnership with the former No. 1 player in the world, Honma and Justin Rose have agreed that Justin will no longer be one of Honma’s brand ambassadors. We are proud to have been a key part of Justin’s journey to regain his position as World Number 1 in early 2019, including a win at the Farmers Insurance Open in his second event with Honma equipment in play.”

“For over a year, Justin worked closely with our team to help develop innovative and top­ performing lines of Honma woods and irons. His pursuit of perfection, approach to product testing and feedback has produced great value to Honma. Justin’s expert input and desire for maximum ball speed inspired our team to make the Honma TR20 460 and 440 drivers among the fastest drivers in the game. Consistently, and excitingly, our nationwide team of fitters are seeing the new TR20 460 and TR20 440 drivers produce some of the fastest speeds on the market. We wish him the very best in his pursuit of more majors and career success,” said John Kawaja, President Honma Golf North America.”

“I have enjoyed working with the Honma team and collaborating closely with them to design and develop excellent golf equipment. I was able to see firsthand the innovations that the craftsmen at Honma bring to their clubs. I am hopeful that during our time of partnership, we have laid the groundwork for Honma to continue to expand their brand. We both feel it is the right time to pursue our own paths,” said Justin Rose.”

Per Honma PR: “This will be the official statement and we are unable to provide any further comments”

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Morning 9: Tour pros will need to be patient in return | Adam Scott skeptical of restart plan | Annoying on-course behaviors

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1. Patience, please
That’s the quality PGA Tour pros will need in a large quantity at the restart, according to Players Advisory Council member Charlie Hoffman, who spoke with Steve DiMeglio…
  • “But the days of jumping into the courtesy vehicle and getting to the course in eight minutes and then start working out 12 minutes later are gone, Hoffman said. Players will have to develop new routines to deal with the new safety measures.”
  • “For instance, upon arrival to the course, players will undergo a thermal test and take part in a questionnaire. A hot breakfast won’t be at the ready as soon as players walk into player dining. The range and practice putting green will have social distancing rules that could lead to a waiting game.”
  • “We’re going to have to figure it out,” Hoffman said. “Time management is going to be important. The first few weeks I’m sure there will be a lot of waiting around. It’s going to be new for everybody.”
  • “We have to be patient. But once the gun goes off, once we get inside the ropes, our instincts will come back and the competition will be amazing.”
  • “Hoffman’s biggest reservations as the restart nears are in travel, living arrangements and eating. The plan includes a charter plane to take players and caddies to the next tournament on the schedule and a designated hotel for all at each site. Room service is highly recommended. The plan is basically a beefed-up version of shelter-at-home guidelines.”
2. Like Tommy Fleetwood, playing the Tour right now isn’t worth it for Lee Westwood
Golf Channel’s Will Gray…“the Englishman is one of what the Tour estimates to be 25 players currently living outside the U.S., and in speaking with Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis he shared that the current quarantine restrictions surrounding international travel will likely preclude him from playing either tournament.”
  • “Right now I won’t be playing them, not with having to leave here two weeks before, quarantine, then play the two tournaments, then come back here and quarantine again,” Westwood said. “It’s six weeks for two tournaments, and to me that’s just not worth it. And it’s not worth taking the risk if everybody thinks that those kind of precautions have got to be in place. I don’t feel like golf’s a priority if it’s that severe.”
3. No caddies?
Golf Channel report…”Caddies will be optional when the LPGA makes its scheduled restart in late July.”
  • “GolfChannel.com has learned that as part of the tour’s new safety protocols for returning amid the coronavirus pandemic, players will be allowed to carry their own bags for the rest of the 2020 season, if they so choose.”
  • “The tour informed its members this is a temporary option designed to protect players who don’t have regular tour caddies, who may feel a heightened risk working with unfamiliar local caddies.”
  • “Still, the news didn’t land well among LPGA caddies eager to return when the tour makes its scheduled restart this summer.”

Full piece. 

4. Merging seasons
Golf Channel’s Randall Mell…”The LPGA will merge its 2020 and ’21 seasons for the purposes of eligibility and priority rankings, but will keep those two seasons separate in its historical and official record.”
  • “That was the news from the LPGA commissioner’s office Wednesday, as was the announcement that the Meijer Classic is being canceled with the tour continuing to adjust to life amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • “The Symetra Tour will also adopt the same plans with the merger of its 2020 and ’21 seasons for eligibility purposes.”
  • “That means Q-School and Q-Series won’t be staged this year, with no route that way to next year’s LPGA player ranks. However, Symetra Tour players competing this year will continue to have a route to the 2021 LPGA season, with the possibility up to five promotions will be allowed, depending on how many Symetra Tour events are played this year.”
5. Scott skeptical of Tour coronavirus plan? 
Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard relays Scott’s remarks, which were originally made to the Australian AP…”They are being fairly thorough, but my initial reaction was I was surprised it wasn’t tighter than it is,” Scott said. “What concerns me is dialogue that [the Tour] is hopeful of returning one- or two-hour test [results]. You’d want that in place before competing.”
  • “Scott also said he has concerns with the circuit’s plan to only administer RT PCR Nasal Swab/Saliva tests to players, caddies and certain Tour and tournament officials but would only screen others on site at tournaments with questionnaires and thermal readings.”
  • “An asymptomatic person could operate within a tournament,” he said. “If they’re not showing symptoms, and I somehow picked it up inside the course, and I’m disqualified, I’m now self-isolating [in that city] for two weeks. I’d be annoyed if that happened.”
6. The most annoying things golfers do on the course 
Cracking work by Golf.com’s Luke Kerr-Dineen to compile a list of annoying on-course behaviors…
A few of the 34 he assembled…“Saying “get left” when the ball is clearly slicing…
  • “This is my pet peeve. Understand ball flight, people! If a ball is carving out to the right, there’s no chance of it getting left, so don’t pretend like there is.”
  • “Not picking up on bad holes…Have some awareness. If it’s taking you eight shots to get to the green, don’t slow the whole group down and make them watch all that. Pick up your ball, sit this one out, and move on.”
  • “Taking many practice swings … only to top the ball 10 feet…Don’t be that guy. If you’re going to have a long pre-shot routine, you better hit it good.”
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